parenthood, pregnancy

Forty One and Two


It was forty one weeks and two days ago that I was forty one weeks and two days pregnant with the sweetest, spunkiest, loudest little red headed girl that I’ve always known. Lately I like to watch her play with her brother, and I just imagine me as a little girl, a teenager, a college girl, a newlywed… I’d daydream and imagine what my life would be like, and what my kids would be like. I look at Lincoln and Emmeline and just imagine God smiling at those thoughts of the Younger Mes, knowing that they would be the most fun, perfect for me and adorable in every possible way. It was always them. It was especially always Emmeline. She has been tucked in my heart for as long as I can remember. Every roll, every reddish hair and eyelash and invisible eyebrow. She is the the red cherry on top.

At nine months old she is fearless and demanding. She loves to make us smile and acts just so goofy at times. She dances, loves music and truly embodies her middle name, Joy. Just making eye contact with her across the room is enough to make her whole body wiggle, a chuckle erupt and her little nose scrunch. She tries to walk and doesn’t seem to remember that she can’t, even after falling face first on the hard floor several times a day. She will yell and swat at Lincoln if he takes her toy or gets in the way, and if he stays too close for too long she’ll pull up on him to standing. This is especially entertaining because he knows that if he moves she will fall and then cry and he doesn’t want to get in trouble for making her cry, so he just stands there and yells for help…

I am in a place where I know, like I know, I am slacking in some areas. Some important, some not-so, but I am not slacking in the loving my babies department. I am snuggling, hugging, singing, dancing, walking, playing trucks, tickling, kissing 110%. Like, I am all in. I was made for this. I’m exhausted out of my mind and pushed to new physical, mental and emotional limits on the regular, but man. This is the good stuff.

Before I had kids, I think I thought the biggest trial of new motherhood was losing the baby weight. Like, really. I think I thought you were pregnant, had the baby, life was normal (just with a baby now) and you worked as hard as you could to lose the baby weight as fast as possible. I heard someone say that it was important to give yourself grace because it took nine (10. It took TEN) months to grow that baby, so it may take nine (DIEZ) months to go back to your pre-baby size.

So, I don’t know about all that baby weight nonsense because once these jokers were out, the LAST thing on my mind has been what size pants I wear. Partially because I only wear leggings now, but also because there are SO many other things that I need to spend time and energy on. Like these kids want to eat… always. Laundry is spilling out from all the corners of my home. I also like, work and stuff. Both times I’ve also dealt with some pretty intense health stuff myself, so how much I weigh? Do not care. Do not know. Do not want to know. Also, if a health professional asks me how much I weigh, I will tell them how much I weighed when I started college.

Real life, though. Nothing is the same after having a baby. After Lincoln I remember being so upset with Marshall for just going back to work like it was no big deal. For me I felt like NOTHING was the same. My body, my skin, my brain, my days, my nights, my time– what I could eat, drink, etc. Literally this child had changed every single thing about my life in one foul swoop. BAM. Life completely altered.

And then, a few months passed and then a few more months passed and then  suddenly I looked up and realized that we had done it. We had made it through, and while nothing was the same as before, it was the same as the day before and the pattern continued until it felt normal. It happened around this time. Lincoln was around eight or nine months old and I just remember feeling a little less insane and less like being in survival mode all the time. It did not occur to me then that it had taken almost the same amount of time of gestation for me to get used to him on the outside, but it totally was around the forty week mark.

The number forty is used somewhat frequently in scripture so I did a little digging just to see what the deal was with God and that number. He’s all about some numerical significance. Forty symbolizes a period of testing or trial. And if the forty weeks of pregnancy and the forty weeks that follow does not fit that perfectly, I do not know what does. Tests and trials ABOUNDING. The thing that is cool about the forty thing, is usually after the period of time of the trial, something really cool happens after. Noah in the Ark forty days and nights– and bam! Waters recede and there’s a fresh start to humanity. And also rainbows. Moses hung out on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights and received laws from God– a pretty big deal to Judaism and subsequently, Christianity. Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness and by the end of it, foreshadowed his ultimate victory over Satan by resisting him completely when he was really hungry during that time.

I don’t  know. I’m all  about the numerical significance, too. Just doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me that human gestation is forty weeks. That is a time of trials and tests for sure, and what follow is truly incredible.

Speaking of numerical significance,  this is probably my most favorite thing. So I was overdue with Emmeline. 10 days. I was due April 30 and she came May 9th and that last  stretch was a crazy emotional roller coaster. So a few weeks after she was born I was driving around and noticed the oil change sticker on the inside of my car had 5/9/17 on it and I was super confused as to why we got an oil change on Emmeline’s birth day (It is also worth noting that it is not very often that I am the one to take a car in for an oil change, because I don’t know what the dates on the stickers mean). In my sleep deprived newborn stupor, I called Marshall and he explained it to me and I laughed OUT LOUD because for weeks “When is the baby coming?!” was basically the only thing we ate, slept or breathed. We obsessed over every contraction, every potential sign of labor, everything. Literally in my car, in my eyeline that I saw every single day was her birthday. It was right under my nose the whole time. So hilarious. Nothing’s a coincidence! We are handpicked. Oil change stickers and all.

parenthood, personal, pregnancy

March Goal Type Things

Y’all life is crazy busy. And this fun blog is the first thing to go when life gets busy. Between work, growing a human, wrangling the two year old human, shooting A LOT at church and for friends this month, getting a cold and sleeping a little extra… I’m behind. But I’m catching up today. So BLOGSPLOSION. Here are my goals for the (rest of) the month! I actually tweaked these since I originally wrote them the first week of the month because some of the stuff there’s NO WAY I’ll actually do it. So let’s be realistic, shall we? Set ourselves up for some success 😉 
  • continue bullet journaling 
    • I love this thing. It’s the perfect planner for me and my brain. 
  • share some of our “minimalism” changes here on the blog
    • We are just getting started on our minimizing journey, it’s been a process getting us to this perspective, and we certainly aren’t “all in” or “all there” but the changes we’ve made so far have improved our quality of life TREMENDOUSLY (mine especially). Excited to share some of what we’ve learned so far. 
  • eat #moreveggiesinmarch 
    • Last year we did this with my pal Lauren and it was SO hard but so good and my goal last time was crazy. This time, I’d rather set a small goal and shred it everyday– I’m at that point in my life/pregnancy where I just want to feel good about myself and my choices. I’d rather eat 9 servings on a good day and 3 on a bad day and still end up meeting my goal. No shame. 
      • 3 servings a day, roughly one a meal. 
  • make “HOME STRETCH” to do lists 
    • There are literally hundreds of  little things I need to do to prepare for this baby to come for work (eep). Make a massive work prep list and home prep list for logistics so I don’t forget anything! 
  • complete Foto February Challenge 
    • and blog it, and finalize my changes for next year!
  • hit my “homestretch goals” every day
    • 4k steps a day
    • 2 liters of water a day
    • greens everyday 
    • “chill time” 30 minutes every day 
    • write scripture daily (memorizing Philippians 2:1-16 for my egroup! So far I’ve got 2:1-4 down, working on 5-7 today!) 
handpicked, parenthood, personal, pregnancy

Jessica + Kevin | maternity

In preparation for a sweet little newborn session this weekend, I realized I haven’t shared these beauties here just yet. This girl is one of the sweetest in the world. She was the Spanish and Technology teacher at the elementary school where I worked for two years before/while Lincoln was born before I had the honor of having that sweet job. I love looking at the giant web of how all that came to be. 
I was teaching high school and I was burning out– fast. I was teaching three levels, coaching cheerleading (and driving an activity bus, y’all…), in charge of a couple clubs, doing course development online nights and weekends… I was ready to get outta there. I needed to sleep.  I wanted a change of pace in lower grades and had interviewed a few places, but none close enough to our house for me, so I premeditatedly called in sick to work one day to drive around and pass out résumés. I stopped by Meredith College to see one of my professors and she happened to mention in passing that an almost graduate had been offered a Spanish K-2 position but didn’t want it— WHAT?! –and it was at the school where my husband worked– WHAT?!? I promptly left that conversation, called my husband, who called the HR lady, who got my résumé moments later, and then I had an interview by Friday and was offered the job on the following Monday. Holy whirlwind.
Meanwhile, a recent Campbell grad was interviewing for HER dream job (my job, that I had resigned from without having another one lined up…). She is now teaching all the Spanish, coaching cheerleading and engaged to the basketball coach. Adorable and so happy. 
Meanwhile, the Meredith grad that didn’t want the K-2 job  had also interviewed for a high school position that she wanted elsewhere and was waiting to hear back from there before she said “no” to the K-2 position. Spoiler alert: she got the high school job, worked it for several years and now lives  in Colombia happily ever after. 
Meanwhile, Jessica had been trying to leave the Spanish K-2 position to go to a regular classroom position but the administrator wouldn’t let her until they found a replacement (me, excitedly since the Meredith Grad had recently turned it down).
What a crazy web of Spanish teachers and classroom dreams, huh? I had the joy of getting to know each of these girls individually during that season, and it was the coolest to see how it all unfolded and how we all ended up where we wanted and needed to be in that season. Ultimately, K-2 was a good job for me at that time, but really my heart of hearts is in momming my kids and the high school crowd. My sarcasm and wit was wasted on the K-2 demographic, although teaching them how to use iPads was and will continue to be a top five in my list of favorite life experiences. Those kids were amazing. 
All that to say, I just love stories like this where it’s so clear. So, so, so clear that God’s hand is in this with us. He’s orchestrating and moving and introducing us to people that may change our lives forever, and in the midst of all that he really does have our interests, hopes and desires close to his heart, just like they are close to our own. It was a good lesson for me to never ignore the nudge of the Holy Spirit, and to go out on a limb because you never know what crazy awesome plans require that first step– in my own life and potentially in someone else’s. 
Jessica, it is an honor to know you and to have been your successor in the K-2 Spanish/Technology classroom! Your students, Kevin, and sweet Lyla Kate are so blessed to have you as their Mrs. Gray, wife and mama. So excited to photograph little LK this weekend! 
These pictures are some of my all time favorites. It was a wintery, wintery cold gray day but we braved the birdwatchers at Yates Mill and I could not love these memories more. What a sweet time, preparing for the first baby! So thankful to be a part of their story. 

documentary, everyday photos, family, handpicked, just because, parenthood, personal, photography

Just Because | Steph + Ben

So, being a mom is tough.  Figuring out what your place in the world is is tough. Finding balance in the tension of being a mother and having a career is tough.

Lincoln was a newborn when I resigned from my teaching job for the coming school year. I was supposed to be excited to have the opportunity to work from home and be with my baby all the time, but it was such an unfamiliar thing I was really not as thrilled as I thought I would be when I signed my resignation letter. There was so much unknown and comments made by co-workers and friends (“oh it must be so nice to be able to stay at home….”) that made me think I was surrendering a hardworking life for a glorified maternity leave– except permanent. 

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I remember tearfully telling Marshall… ”—but I don’t want to be just a mom! I thought there was more for me!”  I felt like I needed to start a business, write a book, do something big. Little did I realize at the time, that raising that tiny person into a  full grown human being is one of the biggest things I’ll ever do. It’s not glamorous. It doesn’t gain a lot of followers. There’s a lot of poop, boogers, squashed bananas in places there shouldn’t be squashed bananas, and lately, singing the songs to Frozen more times than I’ve ever wanted to (that’s my own fault– who showed him Frozen? Me. I did.). It’s taken time, almost two years, and I can’t say I don’t wonder what it would be like to still be working in a school (versus a virtual one) or running a business or writing a book, or going “viral” or whatever, but more days than not I find my heart and soul to be very content doing what I was designed best to do: be Lincoln’s mom. Most days, I kinda rock at it. Not in a perfect, make-all-the-right-decisions way, but in that I recognize the weight of what I’m doing. It’s big. I don’t love it twenty four/ seven, but there are moments– many of them– when the joy just catches me by surprise and I thank God that this is where he put me, even though I was reluctant. There are some freaking hard days, but there are really great days too. And those hard days aren’t all bad, just hard. Getting to this place hasn’t been easy (actually, it was the worst summer and subsequent six months of my life adjusting) but it’s been so worth it, and my perspective on everything is so different. I could not be more grateful. (If you aren’t familiar with my postpartum depression/anxiety/eczema explosion story you can read it here and my thoughts on being “just a mom” here). 
Okay, enough about my experience and exploiting a friend’s beautiful photos to share my thoughts on the complexity of mommy societal expectations. Another day, another post… 

Not to quote the title of my blog but this girl and I? We are handpicked. Like, from day one God had us in mind to be friends. We met in 2013 when Marshall and I visited our first small group at The Summit. We bonded over photography, our love for chocolate pastries and Paris, coffee and kitchen aid mixers, like all in the first 10 minutes of meeting each other. The rest is history. We didn’t know it at the time, but we had lived in the same neighborhood, literally down the street from each other, and then they moved out to the country but were still within a reasonable driving distance from our house. This lady loves so selflessly. The way she serves her husband and family is admirable. She’s like me, into a little bit of everything. We love music, crafting, Jesus, leggings, coffee, photography, etc. Samesies. 
She and her husband worked their booties off the first year and some of Ben’s life to pay off their debt so she could be at home with him and pour all her time into her photography business. In December she celebrated her last day of her day job and is officially a full time mama and small business owner and I asked her if I could come over and document this sweet time and transition. It’s hard when you’re in it to see how sweet it is. These photos are just so special and remind me so much of me and my own sweet boy. There is something so magical, just so so so magical about those everyday things. Making coffee. Playing trains. Eating breakfast together. Reading books. Getting dressed. Diaper changes. Some days its so monotonous, but before you know it they’re reading their own books, feeding themselves and NOT throwing it on the floor (right? RIGHT?!), and using the potty (or so I’ve heard). It’s hard adjusting to the slow life and being on toddler time, especially when you’ve been going 1,000 miles an hour and accomplishing more things before the sun is up than some people do all day…. for most of your life. 
But this girl? She rocks it. She rocks being Ben’s mama. He’s the sweetest little kid in the whole world (even compared to my own) and loves to snuggle and show affection, and I just love it. Even to me. Gives me hugs every time he sees me. Every time! I just love him and could eat him up! Now that she’s more flexible during the day we get to see each other a lot (like once a week!) and it makes me so happy. It’s like a promise fulfilled on so many fronts. I was so lonely and lost and confused in those early baby days, and begged God for community. Every time we see each other is just such a big reminder of God’s faithfulness in his timing in the big things and in the small. Thank you for having me over (ahem– letting me invite myself over) Steph and Ben! It was such a joy to be part of your morning. 

debt, elevation, family, goals, handpicked, marriage, parenthood, personal, pregnancy

February Goal Type Things 2017

  • set up and start bullet journaling 
    • I have the most wonderful undated monthly/weekly/daily planner from Target that I discovered was a one time collaboration and it sent me spiraling into the depths of the internet to find a new one. I’m super duper not interested in paying more than $20 (even that’s more than I’d want to pay…) for something I will scribble on, spill coffee on and that potentially has features I do not need, care about or plan to use. Per the recommendation of my sweet friend Marie, I finally Googled some bullet journaling tutorials and that is TOTALLY how I already run my work flow/schedule– except I was using a pre-made undated planner. Amazing. I’m excited to try it, and am looking forward to having a central location for lists too. I have a running tab of lists in my phone and legal pads about and the idea of having them all in one place gets me so excited. I found a cheap-ish one on Amazon that will arrive tomorrow and now I just need a good black pen. Hit me with your favorites. 
  • start teaching round 2 of Financial Peace University
    • It’s starting February 19th! We’ve partnered with Elevation Raleigh to offer this course AGAIN with free childcare, coffee and no rush hour traffic. We will meet at Millbrook High School on Sundays during the 9:30 worship experience. The course runs for 9 weeks and you are free to come check it out without investing in the kit– it WILL change your life! Register here:
  • go to Ikea (FINALLY YOU GUYS) 
    • I get paid on February 10th and we have quite an Ikea list. Several house projects are in the works and we are borrowing a mini-van and plan to fill ‘er up! Yippee! 
  • assemble king bed + move queen bed to the Big Boy Room + move crib into the Baby Girl Room! 
    • We’re playing musical beds! We’re getting a memory foam king bed (adulting, so much adulting) and our queen mattress is going in Lincoln’s room and his crib (now toddler bed) is getting moved into baby girl’s room. 
  • make a nesting to-do list and clean out, organize and start preparations for Baby Girl’s Room!
    • We’ve already gone through the clothes, downsized tremendously and have a ton of NB through 3mo stuff washed and ready, just need to get it in the room, put it all away and hang stuff on the walls. Post coming soon with inspiration for her room. EEEEEEP. 
  • complete Foto February Challenge
    • I came up with this photo challenge for the month just for funsies. I’ve only done one so far, and it’s really fun! And really challenging to let go of the pretty image ideal… jump in! There are no rules! 
  • finish reading Respect Dare
    • This book has been pivotal in this season of transition. We’re not quite newlyweds, we’re preparing to transition to two kids, we’ve been in our house for five years.. it’s an interesting place to be and this book has provided such a shift in perspective for me. It is cheesy at times and the lil’ feminist in me sometimes screams and wants to stop reading it, but I’m finding it important that I challenge my thinking on all front and see things from other perspectives.  I’m slated to finish it in the next two weeks (I’m a bit behind) and there are already quite a few “dares” that I haven’t really done full out and I’d like to do again. Perhaps this fall will be a good time to do that, I think! Regardless, I totally recommend it if you’re looking for some guidance in approaching marriage biblically. Men speak respect, women speak love and it’s a really great combination of these ideas with some practical tips, “dares” and reflections. A great “quiet time” piece and has sparked some wonderful conversations between Marshall and I. Highly recommend! 
  • maintain existing + continue developing good habits
    • I’ve upgraded my water bottle to a 1L and am drinking 2-3 liters a day. Want to keep that up! 
    • I’ve been getting up early to work in the mornings and it has been a game changer for my stress level! Finding such peace and joy working in the wee hours of 5 and 6am. I don’t even know who I am anymore…
    • I lowered my step goal to 6k a day, and some days it’s easy to hit and surpass, others not so much. Get back to walking every day and yoga 1x a week once I hit 30 weeks. 
  • enjoy at least one Lincoln + Mama day each week
    • I’m getting all nostalgic about only having ~13ish weeks left of this pregnancy, and the transition to 2 YEARS OLD hasn’t been too bad, but there are definitely a few more tantrums than there used to be. It’s getting more difficult to wrangle him in public when he decides to not obey, BUT– it’s worth it. We’ve been going to Marbles a lot, would like to maybe go to Pullen Park and ride the train one day, go get special donuts at Levant… and also, would like to document one of these with my big camera. 
baby boy, family, parenthood, personal

Our Everyday Photos: Fall 2016

This fall was crazy! And awesome and wonderful and magical and special and it FLEW by. I found out I was pregnant the end of August and I was down for the count for most of September and October. If I wasn’t puking, I was trying not to puke and if I wasn’t doing either of those things I was asleep. It was a bit of a blur, but thanks to some nausea meds and a really patient then-one year old and his awesome dad we still made a few special fall memories. This year we made a little fun fall to-do list with some of our favorite fall experiences. I hate the feeling of realizing you missed it, you know? Like when a season (literal or figurative) comes to an end and you realize you wasted a lot of it thinking you had a lot of time. Time goes by so fast now with kids (SO FAST), and I’ve found entering each season (literal) intentionally is really helpful for me, and when it’s over I can celebrate the fun we had and welcome to the new one, instead of having regrets and wishing I had had a plan.

Some fall highlights:

Lincoln started preschool two days a week; picking out pumpkins at the Farmer’s Market; having our own little family Thanksgiving just the three of us; having two ultrasounds and seeing little baby bean and later MUCH larger baby bean; Lincoln immediately referring to our ultrasound pictures as “baby”; going to the State Fair with my best friends; hot apple cider; impromptu Lion, Tiger + Bear family Halloween costume and Lincoln’s first trick or treating; surviving our first (and hopefully last) Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease situation; Marshall played bass at the NC State Fair with Elevation Worship; Second Annual Tacosgiving with my sister and her family; decorating for Christmas– just a few of my favorites!

family, food, handpicked, parenthood, personal, pregnancy

2017 GOALS | part one

I’m still working on the action steps, but I have my “whats” and “whys”. Realistically, I know a good chunk of this year is going to be about surviving. A new baby means sleep will be lacking, as will time to myself and my ability to have clear coherent thoughts most of the time. My goals this year are really “big picture”, I’ve have had some ‘action steps’ written down and just haven’t really gotten them rolling yet. I have a lot of little things to do to get ready for baby (including quite a bit of work to prepare considering I’ll have a newborn the last month or so of my spring and yearlong courses and no maternity leave).  The idea of coming up with strict goals for this year with strict action steps I would likely not follow through with was really stressful and overwhelming so instead, I’m just focusing on the big picture.

Our pastor encourages us to come up with a word for the year of what we want to define or describe what God will do in our life. Nothing really came to mind for me so I asked Marshall what his was. He chose abide from one of our new songs we sing at church Hallelujah, Here Below. It’s one of my favorites. I love the message and perspective. So much.

We are an altar of broken stones
But you delight in the offering
You have the heavens to call your home
But you abide in the song we sing
Ten thousand angels surround your throne
To bring you praise that will never cease
But hallelujah from here below
Is still your favorite melody
And should the fire that once burned bright
Become an ember my eyes can’t see
I will remember your sacrifice
I will abide in your love for me

Jesus Christ our king enthroned
all the praise is yours forevermore
Hallelujah, Here below
All the praise is yours, forevermore

Let this be me this year! In the hours of pain, labor and delivery, where time stands still.  In the fog and cloudiness of early postpartum days. In the  eternal, seemingly never ending weeks and months of sleep deprivation and healing in my body. In the moments of toddler tantrums and crying babies. In the heaps of laundry, piles of dishes, accumulating dirt and dog hair. In the unanswered emails, text messages and assignments ungraded. In the reality of something always left neglected, unfinished, incomplete and undone. Let me abide in your love for me, survive on your word, rely on your truths and believe the promises for my future. This is my big picture for 2017. 

2017: Abide 
2016: Thrive
2015: Simplify
2014: Goals
So here’s my big picture. I wasn’t sure how to categorize them this year. It’s a combo of what worked, what didn’t work, what I want to make time for and actions I guess for abiding.

  • Diet. 
  • Routines.
  • Personal photo taking and organization. Digital workflow with Lightroom and uploading to personal Smugmug. 
  • Time management at home. 
  • Adhere to chore/housework rotation to do a little bit daily, so I don’t feel overwhelmed when it all starts to pile up. 
  • Finish work during the day. / Improve workflow to be more efficient. 
  • Online storage of RAW files.
  • iPhone photos. Take less, delete more, keep fewer. 
  • Family time! 2+ a week, finish work before Marshall gets home so we can unwind, cook dinner, and play with Lincoln before bedtime and have QT after bedtime (aka play Monopoly Deal) 
  • Baby books! Yes, plural. I still haven’t finished Lincoln’s. Finish Lincoln’s, prepare baby girl’s so once she’s here all I have to do is write stuff down and print photos. 
  • Print pictures for our photo wall from 2016 and 2017. 
  • Order/finish my 2016 Chatbook (I currently have a ticket open with them, I have three stubborn photos that won’t go into my book….).  
  • Read for fun (post forthcoming with books for the year!) 
  • Take care of myself. 6k step goal daily, water daily, vegetables + vitamins daily. Smoothies 2x a week, broth 2x a week. relaxing baths 2x a week. 
  • Enjoy newborn days. No visitors first two weeks (sorry, but also not sorry!). Sleep, recover, nurse and savor! 
  • Make seasonal goals/bucket lists for quality family time. 
  • Read and study the Bible frequently. 
  • Listen to uplifting, encouraging podcasts.
  • Pray frequently.
Happy New Year! 
baby boy, family, God stuff, handpicked, parenthood, personal, pregnancy

I Am Handpicked

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As a mom especially, it’s hard for me to not have regrets or to wish I had done some things differently. I’m positive this will be a reoccurring theme for the rest of forever. Sometimes I find myself wishing I’d made different decisions or for a “do over”, for some reason these wishes come to me in the final moments of each day while trying to fall asleep. Every single mistake I’ve made or dumb thing I’ve said. Sometimes, just from that day, or sometimes from years ago. I am not totally sure why my subconscious hates me and tries to sabotage good sleep.

Occasionally, like right now, I have these lucid moments where I’m grateful for the mistakes and the imperfect way things go. My perspective wouldn’t be what it is now had things not been the way they were. And I’m thankful for that. Thankful for growth, and for a God that never leaves me and never stops teaching me. Thankful that I was designed for and handpicked for this job of ‘mama’. It’s freaking hard some days, some days it’s easy easier than the hard days, and some days I walk with an energy in my step that I can only define as joy

There may be others better at teaching, parenting, disciplining, funning, or you name it–
there is a not, never was and never will be, another person on the planet that could replace me. I was made to be Lincoln’s mom. Designed for it, in fact. Handpicked for it. And I’m rocking it.

Thank you, Jesus. Your ways are perfect. 

baby boy, family, parenthood, personal

Beach Days and Adiós Summer 2016

We had the glorious opportunity to tag along on family vacation for a few days with my in laws earlier this week. It was so special! It was Lincoln’s first overnight trip to the beach and he loved it. He was fearless with the ocean. He loved jumping in the waves and falling down and pretty much rolling in the sand. It was quite a challenge to clean him up after each trip to the beach, but so worth it. 

He is in the midst of what seems to be another language explosion. He came up with names for everyone, Gigi, Pop Pop, Livy (Olivia), Kunkle (Uncle Schuyler) and Bobo (Cameron– CamBo). It’s so sweet seeing these relationships form. He’s recognized his grandparents, aunts and uncles for a while and gets so excited to see them, but it’s really sweet to see him interact with them. He was super snuggly when we left and gave everyone snuggles and kisses. It was so cute! He loved talking about water, the ocean, and last night when we were getting ready for bed he was telling me about the waves.

On the parent front, it’s been a trying couple of days. Language explosion, a little cold and maybe some molars coming in has interrupted sleep pretty much every night for a week or so. Failed attempts at getting him back to sleep in his own bed has resulted in some semi-sleepless rest-of-the-nights with a toddler sleeping sideways in our bed, giving me a facial with his feet. There’s also been some really sweet moments where he snuggles up to me and says mama, hey and then drifts back to sleep. He’s never been great at sleeping in our bed, but lately it’s been the norm and sleep deprivation aside, it’s been a welcomed change of pace. He’s becoming so independent and on the go, quiet snuggle time is becoming less frequent and I’ve loved it. His crib is also a great way to trick him to lay down in a big bed. If you ask him if he’s ready to get in his crib he’ll say no quickly and then lay very still and close his eyes…

Overall, the beach was amazing. It was so nice to unplug a bit and relax before the new school year begins. Also, experiencing the beach for the first time with my one year old is something I will never forget. He enjoyed the beach on our day trip last year, but that was nothing compared to this year. Pure joy. ¡Adiós summer 2016! You were spectacular.

Tuesday night we took my big camera down to the beach to shoot some video (we’re obsessed with making home movies lately!) and I had to take some pictures. It was just gorgeous out there. That was definitely the closest my Mark will ever be to a body of water again, but it was SO worth it. The video and pictures we got will be a sweet reminder of our first overnight trip to the beach as a family.


baby boy, family, handpicked, parenthood, personal

Just A Mom

Figuring out what I’m supposed to be in life has always been a challenge. I’ve had varied interests and been able to learn and adapt quickly to do well in whatever I was interested in at the time. I’ve always walked a fine line, and still in recent years felt the tug between wanting to be unique and make my own way, yet just wanting someone to sit down with me and just tell me which path to take, already!

I’m not sure I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I don’t remember ever not wanting to be a mom, but I think it was the kind of thing that I was too scared to hope for. Like, if I wanted it and for whatever reason it didn’t happen that way I wouldn’t be disappointed. And then, I became a mom.

After making the decision to work online full time and be at home with Lincoln, I had to mourn part of myself that I was saying goodbye to. I never really envisioned being a career teacher and putting thirty years into the profession, but it seemingly had ended too soon and I really felt like God had designed me to be a teacher and to make an impact in that way. I couldn’t imagine leaving all of that to be just a mom.

I can’t quite fathom that for nearly two years now I’ve been a mom. Only two years, but also two long years. Every time Lincoln comes up to me with his arms raised, asking to be held in my arms it’s a bit surreal. Still. When in a room full of people he chooses my lap to sit in, and sees me in the morning and exclaims “mama!” it’s still so strange and unfamiliar. At night when he wants me to hold him and stroke his hair until he falls asleep, part of me wants to ask him “Me? You want me? Are you sure?” 

Yet, at times it is so natural and instinctive that it’s hard to believe it hasn’t always been this way, and he hasn’t always been a part of me, an extension of my heart just walking around. Some parts come so naturally, like how I can tell what he is about to ask for without uttering a word (or whatever you want to call those sounds he makes). Or how I know when he’s about to sneeze, even when he’s in another room because there’s a long pause, followed by a sharp inhale and then another long pause and then– the sneeze. It’s almost identical to the way his dad sneezes. I speak his language, he (mostly) understands mine. We kiss each other and hold hands and go get groceries. We make up songs and play with trucks. We practice our manners and saying hello to people and the names of our body parts.

Now, we don’t always understand each other. I spent most of his early days demanding to know why he insisted on sleeping instead of eating (really though, I’d probably sleep given the choice today…) and now we have days where I might as well be speaking Spanish to him, because nothing I say or do is right. The spoon is wrong, the plate is wrong, the granola bar shouldn’t be in pieces and the eggs should be on my plate, the truck was supposed to be over there…. etcetera.

But, I can say definitively: this is my path. This is where I am supposed to be. I’m just a mom. I’m the lap, the arms, the snuggle, the snack provider. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to be and I didn’t even know it. My arms are stronger than they’ve ever been. I’m braver than I’ve ever been. I’m a bit sleepier and squishier than I’ve ever been too, and it’s just right.